January 19, 2009

AMERICAN PRESIDENTS, and some other topics

Alter, Jonathan, The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006).

Cohen, Adam, Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America (New York: The Penguin Press, 2009).

Editors of Life, The, The American Journey of Barack Obama (New York: Little, Brown, 2008).

Fredrickson, George M., Diverse Nations: Explorations in the History of Racial and Ethnic Pluralism (U.S. History in International Perspective (Boulder & London: Paradigm Publishers, 2008).

Samuelson, Robert J., The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Influence (New York: Random House, 2008)(a nice, nontechnical essay explaining some of how America’s economy got into the trouble that it is in, etc.).

Schwartz, Barry, Abraham Lincoln and the Forge of National Memory (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2000).

Schwartz, Barry, Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era: History and Memory in Late Twentieth-Century America (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2008).

Southworth, Ann, Lawyers of the Right: Professionalizing the Conservative Coalition (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2008).

Trillin, Calvin, Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme (New York: Random House, 2008).

January 1, 2009


"History, as nearly no one seems to know, is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. It could scarcely be otherwise, since it is to history that we owe our frames of reference, our identities, and or aspirations."
---JAME BALDWIN, "White Man's Guilt," Ebony, 1965

Atwood, Margaret, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (Toronto: Anansi Press, 2008).

Badger, Anthony J., FDR: The First Hundred Days (New York: Hill and Wang, 2008) ("The lawyers encouraged by Felix Frankfurter to staff government agencies in the Hundred Days were not by and large anticapitalist (although a small number were members of the Communist Party): many came from leading Wall Street law firms and investment houses. They were aware of the betrayal of fiduciary trust by investment bankers and utility companies, and they were anxious that the government should have legal expertise to match the legal teams of the corporations and finance houses. They were suspicious of the pricing policies of the firms they dealt with. They had a lawyer's skepticism of, rather than a businessman's trust in, the good faith of the food processors, for example, to set prices fairly. They expected to have access to the companies' books to check that good faith. They had a rather lofty faith in their ability as disinterested lawyers to act in the national interest. But they were not anticapitalist or antimarket: they aimed instead to get the market to operate in a more open and transparent way." Id. at 154.).

Barnes, Julian, Nothing to Be Frighten Of (New York: Knopf, 2008) ("It is not just pit-gazing that is hard work, but life-gazing. It is difficult for us to contemplate, fixedly, the possibility, let alone the certainty, that life is a matter of cosmic hazard, its fundamental purpose mere self-perpetuation, that it unfolds in emptiness, that our planet will one day drift in frozen silence, and that the human species, as it has developed in all its frenzied and over-engineered complexity, will completely disappear and not be missed, because there is nobody and nothing out there to miss us. This is what growing up means. And it is a frightening prospect for a race which has for so long relied upon its own invented gods for explanation and consolation." Id. at 171-172.).

Bon Tempo, Carl J., Americans at the Gate: The United States and Refugees during the Cold War (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America) (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2008).

Brands, H.W., Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (New York: Doubleday, 2008).

Burrows, Edwin G., Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During The Revolutionary War (New York: Basic Books, 2008).

Chappell, David L., A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (Chapel Hill & London: U. of North Carolina Press, 2004).

Dobbs, Michael, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro in the Brink of Nuclear War (New York: Knopf, 2008).

Dumm, Thomas, Loneliness as a Way of Life (Cambridge, Ma. & Oxford, England: Harvard U. Press, 2008).

Dray, Philip, Capital Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008).

Ellis, Charles D., The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008) ("The Principles are: . . . . 14. Integrity and honesty are at the heart of our business. We expect our people to maintain high ethical standards in everything they do, both in their work for the firm and in their personal lives." Id. at 185-186.).

Faust, Drew Gilpin, This Republic of Suffering: Death and The American Civil War (New York: Knopf, 2008).

Ferguson, Niall, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008).

Gildea, Robert, Children of the Revolution: The French, 1799-1914 (Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 2008).

Gildea, Robert, Marianne in Chains: Daily Life in the Heart of France During the German Occupation (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2003).

Gilliom, John, Overseer of the Poor: Surveillance, Resistance, and the Limits of Privacy (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2001).

Gladwell, Malcolm, Outliers: The Story of Success (Boston: Little, Brown, 2008) ("No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich." Id. at 238.).

Goldin, Claudia, & Lawrence F. Katz, The Race Between Education and Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: Belknap/Harvard U. Press, 2008).

Gordon-Reed, Annette, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (New York: Norton, 2008) ("It is an empirical, not just an intuitive or romantic, fact that law and social mores have never been able to stamp out constitutive elements of the human personality. The American slave society in which Hemings and Jefferson lived, with its tremendous grant of power to one group over another, grossly distorted the distribution of human emotions. One encounters vastly more instances of the negative ones that helped the institution along--some from Jefferson's own hand--than benign or positive ones that contradicted its basic tenets. Yet we would never expect law and even extreme social opprobrium to remove from a population jealousy, hatred, greed, sympathy, mirth, possessiveness--the entire palette of human emotions. If the shapers of law and social custom had that kind of power, social orders would stand forever. Cultures would never change. Very often the seeds of change are planted in the privacy of individual minds, home, and bedrooms--any place where people retreat to escape from the demands of society's rules and to take on personae that are more suited to their own needs than those the external community would have them adopt." Id. at 168.).

Gramlich, Edward M., Subprime Mortgages; America’s Latest Boom and Bust (Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute Press, 2007).

Hamilton, Shane, Trucking Country: The Road to America’s Wal-Mart Economy (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America) (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2008) ([The] appraisal of the power of technology to transcend decades-old political conflicts drew on a wider current of technological optimism in postwar U.S. culture. Despite the worrisome devastation wrought by atomic weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. journalists in the immediate postwar years touted atomic energy as ‘a blessing that will make it possible for the human race to create a close approach to an earthly paradise.’ . . . The plastics industry boomed after the war as entrepreneurs and chemical corporations manufactured everything from fishing rods to furniture out of inexpensive hydrocarbon compounds. . . . Mass production techniques promised a world of affordable suburban homes after 1947, when Levitt and Sons began constructing the first Levittown on Long Island, using gang construction and prefabricated home parts to erect the nation’s then-largest private housing development. As technological fixes, each of these solutions proved effective in fueling the postwar consumer-driven economic boom, but did little to resolve deeper political and social conflicts. Atomic utopians could not forever downplay the destructive potential of nuclear power. . . . Plastics offered a vibrant and colorful sheen to a consumer society nonetheless beset by continuing class tensions and lurking anxieties about the ephemeral nature of material abundance. Levittowns and other sprawling suburbs provided good housing at affordable prices, but did nothing to confront racial residential segregation based on white homeowners; self-fulfilling prophecies that property values would decline in integrated neighborhoods. William Levitt explained away his firm’s implicit support of white flight and restrictive race-based housing covenants, declaring that his firm could ‘solve a housing problem, or we can try to solve a racial problem, but we cannot combine the two.’ The technological optimism of U.S. postwar culture illustrates the historical truism that technological fixes, whether premised on utopian fantasies or upon pragmatic politics, tend to produce simplistic, reductionist ‘solutions’ to complex social problems. Even when ‘successful’, a technological fix more often displaces, rather than resolves, the source of conflict—generally by empowering technocrats and technical experts to approach political conflicts in engineers’ terms rather than in the messy public sphere of democratic debate.” Id. at 90-91. Is there a lesson here regarding the current U.S. financial crisis? Are the various bailouts, stimulus packages, supports, loans, or whatever, mere empowerment of the so-called economic experts, etc., and at the expense of true democratic debate?).

Hindman, Matthew, The Myth of Digital Democracy (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2008) ("A central claim of this book is that direct political speech on the Internet--by which I mean the posting of political views online by citizens--does not follow this egalitarian patterns. If we look at citizens' voices in terms of the readership their postings receive, political expression online is orders of magnitude more unequal than the disparities we used to in voting, volunteer work, and even political fund-raising. This book also shows that by the most commonly used social science metrics, online audience concentration equals or exceeds that found in most traditional media." Id. at 17.).

Hobsbawn, Eric, On Empire: America, War, and Global Supremacy (New York: Pantheon, 2008) ("Faced with the industrialization of Europe and the United States, Victorian Britain (then still massively industrialized, still the world's largest trader and investor), shifted its markets and capital investments to the formal and informal empire. The United States of the early twenty-first century has no such option, and in any case could not exercise it, since it is no longer a major exporter of goods and capital, and pays for the vast demand for goods which it can no longer produce itself by going into debt to the new centers of world industry. It is the only major empires that has also been a major debtor. Indeed, with the exception of the seventy years between World War I and 1988, the global bottom line of its economy has never been in credit. The capital assets, visible and invisible, accumulated since 1945 by the U.S. economy, are large and not liable to rapid erosion. Nevertheless, U.S. supremacy must be acutely vulnerable to its relative decline, and to the shift of industrial power, capital, and high technology into Asia. In a globalized world the 'soft power' of market and cultural Americanization no longer reinforces American economic superiority. America pioneered supermarkets, but in Latin America and China the pace was set by the French Carrefour chain. The American Empire, unlike the British, has consistently had to rely on its political muscle." Id. at 86-87.).

Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri, The FBI: A History (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2007).

Jones, Jacqueline, Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War (New York: Knopf, 2008).

Keith, LeeAnna, The Colfax Massacre: The Untold Story of Black Power, White Terror, and the Death of Reconstruction (Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2008) (Here is the political and social road leading up to U. S. v. Cruikshank.).

Khanna, Parag, The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order (New York: Random House, 2008) ("Whether globalization will continue is not the issue--only its extent . . . . Globalization is now part of every society's strategy for survival and progress. While protestors were swarming high-level World Trade Organization summits to bring an end to the existing rules of the game, the small producers of sugar and cotton whom they claimed to represent conducted business as usual because they had to do so in order to survive. Even the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, did not stop the falling costs of transportation, the liberalization of trade, and the explosion of communications technology that drive globalization." Id. at xxi-xxii. "Forty percent of America's trade is with East Asia, and most of the rest is with Europe. America depends on cheap Chinese goods and China's appetite for U.S. treasury bonds; China depends on European and American investment and now exports more to Europe than the United States does; Europe and America save costs and boost profits by relocating production to China. The three together have come to resemble conjoined triplets, where severing any artery hurts all sides. Only this sort of globalized integration can possibly prevent the full return of geopolitical rivalry among three such ambitious superpowers on one small planet." Id. at xxii.).

Kunhardt, Philip B., III, Perter W. Kunhardt, & Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon, Introduction by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Foreword by David Herbert Donald (New York: Knopf, 2008).

Lane, Charles, The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, The Supreme Court, and The Betrayal of Reconstruction (New York: Henry Holt, 2008) (Here is another account of the road to U.S. v. Cruishank. It underscores America's own long history of domestic terrorism.).

Lombardo, Paul A., Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck v. Bell (Baltimore; The Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2008).

Mayer, Jane, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (New York: Doubleday, 2008) (I think it is extremely imperative that law students read this book. Though several worthy lawyers are identified, the book identifies a much longer list of lawyers who have brought much dishonor to the legal profession and who, unfortunately, will not suffer any negative consequences for having done so. "In Charlottesville, Virginia, Phillip Zelikow, who returned to teaching history at the University of Virginia, tried to take stock. In time, he predicted, the Bush Administration's descent into torture would be seen as akin to Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It happened, he believed, in much the same way, for many of the same reasons. As he put it, 'Fear and anxiety were exploited by zealots and fools.'" Id. at 335. Unfortunately, many of those zealots and fools were some of the lawyers.).

McPherson, James M., Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008).

Meacham, Jon, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House (New York: Random House, 2008).

Mendell, David, Obama: From Promise to Power (New York: Amistad, 2008).

Noll, Mark A., The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (Chapel Hill: U. of North Carolina Press, 2006).

Shiller, Robert J., The New Financial Order: Risk in the 21st Century (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2003).

Shiller, Robert J., The Subprime Solution: How Today’s Global Financial Crisis Happened and What to Do about It (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2008).

Smith, Jean Edward, FDR (New York: Random House, 2007).

Stroll, Ira, Samuel Adams: A Life (New York: Free Press, 2008).

Stuart, Douglas T., Creating the National Security State: A History of the Law that Transformed America (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2008).

Sugrue, Thomas J., Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (New York: Doubleday, 2008).

Weaver, Catherine, Hypocrisy Trap: The World Bank and the Poverty of Reform (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2008) ("This book is concerned with a critical problem facing the World Bank today: its perceived hypocrisy. A label often affixed to the World Bank and other International organizations (IOs), hypocrisy refers to the gap between what an IO says and what it does, or in Nils Brunsson's definition, the contradictions between 'organizational talk, decision, and action'." Id. at xi. "This book is driven by two sets of questions. First, why does the Bank exhibit hypocrisy? What does this hypocrisy look like in the manifested behavior of the Bank? What factors, external or internal to the Bank, drive the divergence of bureaucratic talk and action? Second, why is hypocrisy so difficult to resolve, especially when it is exposed as a critical threat to legitimacy and authority? Stated differently, what is it about the nature of change, and specifically strategic reform efforts within international organizations, that enables or even requires hypocrisy?" Id. at 4.).